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Sydney: Mark Milligan believes Australia’s winner was “just a matter of time” after they edged into the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Inter-Continental Play-off courtesy of Tim Cahill’s brace inTuesday’s hard-fought 2-1 extra-time win that resulted in a 3-2 aggregate victory.

Milligan’s loose pass had led to Omar Al Soma’s early opener for the visitors but Cahill’s 49th international goal levelled the tie on the night and on aggregate, before goal number 50 came in the second half of extra-time as the 37-year-old was once again his country’s hero.

And Melbourne Victory midfielder Milligan insisted that the team were always confident the breakthrough at Stadium Australia was coming.


“We changed our formation and were just that little more aggressive, so the longer the game went on, we felt we got a good stranglehold of it,” he said.

“We know what we’re capable of and we knew it was just a matter of time. That’s something we have in us: we work until we can’t work anymore.

“Both teams had done a lot of kilometres, but we know that all the work they had done would come back to hurt them.”

The 32-year-old, though, admitted that full credit had to be given to Australia’s guests who had pushed them hard and could have won the tie in the final minutes of extra-time only to see Al Soma’s vicious free-kick ricochet off Mat Ryan’s left-hand upright.

“They [Syria] found with absolutely everything they had and they were outstanding,” said Milligan.

“They were very difficult to breakdown, gave us a great match on our own home soil, and worked extremely hard throughout the game.

“And when they had their early chance, they punished us with their quality.

“We’ve got to say: Hats off to them.”

Australia’s reward is a meeting with the fourth-ranked team from CONCACAF in November in a two-legged tie that will determine whether the Socceroos can extend their run of four consecutive FIFA World Cup appearances.

“I think the next round will be a different type of match for us,” added Milligan.

“There will certainly be different challenges to what we’ve faced over the two legs here and a lot of tough ahead of us.

Photos: Lagardère Sports